Example Mapping

Before you pull a user story into development, it’s crucial to have a conversation to clarify and confirm the acceptance criteria.

Example Mapping is a simple method to make this conversation short and very productive.

How it works

Concrete examples are a great way to help us explore and understand the problem domain. They are a great basis for our acceptance tests.

When discussing examples, other things might come up in the conversation that deserve to be captured too:

  • rules that summarise a set of examples, or express other constraints.

  • questions that cannot be answered during the conversation, or assumptions that are made.

  • new user stories discovered or sliced and deferred out of scope.

We can capture these different types of information on index cards, and arrange them in a map:

  • We write the story on a yellow card and place it on top.

  • Each of the acceptance criteria, or rules, is written on a blue card and placed beneath the yellow story card.

  • Examples to illustrate these rules are written on a green card and placed under the relevant rule.

  • Questions that cannot be answered during the session are captured on a red card so we can move on with the conversation.

We keep going until the group is satisfied that the scope of the story is clear, or we run out of time.

More information

For more details, see Matt Wynne’s blog on Example Mapping.


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